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Premiere: Quality Used Cars Roam Through Optimism on "Since The World's Been Turning Upside Down"

Following up 2021's excellent debut LP Good Days​/​Bad Days, Naarm/Melbourne garage pop five-piece Quality Used Cars are back today with "Since The World's Been Turning Upside Down," the new scrappy cut from their upcoming sophomore album Quality of Life. Along with the announcement, we caught up with bandleader Francis Tait to discuss the recording sessions of the new album, taking risks in his songwriting, and striving to use his and his bandmates' creativity to the fullest.

Photo by James Whiting

Expanding upon their wonky melodies and shaggy garage pop ramblings, Quality Used Cars are back today with a new single to their forthcoming sophomore album Quality of Life, out August 4th on Spoilsport Records (Dragnet, Kosmetika, Delivery). With a wordy wryness reminiscent of heavy hitters like Scott & Charlene's Wedding and Courtney Barnett, idiosyncratic frontman Francis Tait encapsulates listeners once again with his distinct deadpan drawl of sharp wit and warbled croon. Picking up fellow Naarm/Melbourne musicians Hannah McKittrick, Ben Leahy, Isobel Caldwell, Blake Lica, and Ryan Leahy for the first Quality Used Cars record in 2021, Tait drives the band to their fullest across the 11-track album. The new single "Since The World's Been Turning Upside Down" imbues a melancholy wonderland with its charismatic storytelling and soft-hearted curiosity, emitting the group's unassuming nature in the studio.

Along with the announcement of the new album, we caught up with Tait to discuss the recording sessions of the new album, taking risks in his songwriting, and striving to use his and his bandmates' creativity to the fullest.

Paperface Zine: Hey Francis! Take me through the origins of Quality Used Cars?

Francis Tait: Cars are a band that I built around a bunch of songs I have been playing from about 2017 or so, both solo and as a duo with Hannah. I also called it The Francis Tait Bossa Nova Experience for a bit too when we had a portable Bluetooth speaker with a disco light playing the drum parts and then eventually found our way to Quality Used Cars.

PZ: What are some other musical projects that you and your band maintain?

FT: Lots of fingers in lots of different musical pies. My other project is a collaborative soul/disco band called Squid Nebula, which is a completely other world to the Cars stuff. Hannah and I play together in Feign Jima, who has just put out a new EP that we're both on. Hannah and Issy released a solo albums late last year. Issy also sings in The Mamas and plays keys and sings in Big Lubly. Benny Two Snakes plays garage-rock bass with our mates in Bad Bangs and Ryan plays punk bass in Swab. Ryan also sings and plays guitar in a newer band called Southern Crustacean.

PZ: How has the project grown since releasing the debut LP Good Days/Bad Days in 2021?

FT: The first Quality Used Cars album was mostly recorded during 2020 from our homes, so it made it a little harder to work together on the songs. They were also songs I'd been playing solo for a while that we turned into band songs. Working on this new album Quality of Life has been the first time we've really been able to sit together and finish the songs as a group. It feels like much more of a band effort this time and it's a very nice thing for me. We also have a pedal steel now, not just a lap steel we try and make sound like a pedal steel. That's been a whole thing.

PZ: Take me through the origins of your new track and the album's lead single "Since The World's Been Turning Upside Down." How did this track come together?

FT: I really like the first album, Good Days/Bad Days, but it does get a little bit down and out. For the second Cars record, I wanted to practice a little more optimism in my songwriting. "Since The World's Been Turning Upside Down" was one of the first songs that started that process. I also wanted to take some more risks with the way we wrote and arranged songs, and use the Cars line up to its fullest.

Photo by James Whiting

PZ: What are some themes you explore across the new single?

FT: "Since The World's Been Turning Upside Down" definitely lives right in the middle of the world I wanted to create for this record. This whole album rotates around themes of change, self-acceptance, and contentment and it felt like a nice single to accompany the album announcement.

PZ: I see the tracks from last year's double single are also included on the album's tracklisting. How did those songs come about?

FT: "Me and Damon Drinking Beers at the Grandview Hotel" and "I've Never Felt More Alive" are also heavily inspired by my own bit of time trying to practice a bit more mindfulness and optimism, particularly following the bunch of lockdowns in Naarm. These songs were written during and between then. I went into writing "Me and Damon Drinking Beers at the Grandview Hotel" with the idea of catching all the feelings of inadequacy and uncertainty that were swirling around my head at that time, while trying to assure myself there are more important things in life than kicking goals. I'd been trying to get those themes into my new songs and after having a beer with one of my oldest good friends Damon, it all kind of vomited out of me very quickly. "I've Never Felt More Alive" also intends to bottle those similar feelings but a little further down the line, which is maybe why it felt so good following "Me and Damon Drinking Beers at the Grandview Hotel." They're both about not getting bogged down and taking time to appreciate what's in front of you.

PZ: How did the overall recording sessions go for the new LP?

FT: I recorded all of Quality of Life in a space I've been setting up for the last couple of years that we call The Caryard. It's definitely not perfect and a bit stitched together, but I kind of like that conceptually. The same way I taped on a bit of my old car that fell off the other day. It also meant we could take our time with the arrangements, get a bit weirder, and take a few more risks. I also got to demo everything beforehand which felt so so nice.

PZ: What are some of your fondest memories from the album's recording sessions?

FT: Watching Han and Issy write the backing vocal parts is always the best. I just sit around with a cup of tea and I give very vague prompts while they do all the heavy lifting. The BV parts they've written across this album amaze me. It was also really lovely being able to head to the car yard after a shitty day at work and just get lost in the album for a few hours. It has become a real happy place for me.

Photo by James Whiting. Design/Layout by James Devlin

PZ: What was the idea behind the album's cover art?

FT: James Whiting who plays in the Fillmores and Blue Roof did all the photography for the record. I asked him about twelve months ago to start collecting pictures of things going slightly wrong — the sort of things that are really not a big deal, but would annoy the shit out of you if you were having a bad day. Both the single and album cover have come from that collection of photos. I especially like the album cover photo. James takes beautiful photos. Then our regular go-to James Devlin did all the designing and brought the covers together. Everything Devs touches turns to gold I reckon.

PZ: What are you most excited about to have this record released and in the hands of your


FT: We really sound like a band on this record, not just one person who has gotten a bunch of their mates to learn some parts. We got to all arrange them together and stress over the details and you can hear a bit of everyone's personality in each song. I'm also very excited about how good it's gonna look on vinyl, if you want me to be more specific on the "in the hands of your fans" part.

PZ: What's the rest of the year looking like for you and the Cars?

FT: The rest of the album will be out on August 4th and then we'll launch the album on August 25th. Haven't announced the launch yet, so there's your official save the date. We're gonna go and do some interstate shows in September too and then see what happens. Whatever happens, I'm just excited about having this thing out and playing shows and being with my friends. Optimism, baby.

Quality of Life is out August 24th on Spoilsport Records. Pre-order the wax here.


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